Classic China

Duration: 17 days

Highlights: Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Zhujiajiao, Yangzi River, Chongqing, Guilin and Hong Kong

This itinerary is ideal for the first time visitor to China, taking in all the major highlights of the country.

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Day 1 - Arrive Beijing

The political centre of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing is all about grandiosity – a juxtaposition of Chinese history and development.

Upon arrival this evening, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Overnight: The Peninsula


Day 2 - Beijing

This morning, visit the extraordinary Forbidden City. Centre of the Chinese world for nearly 500 years, the imperial palace remains the most complete and best preserved collection of ancient buildings in China. 

Continue on to visit the Temple of Heaven, a perfection of Ming architecture and one of the symbols of Beijing. Built in 1420, this huge site follows a route traversed by past emperors and their entourages in splendid procession from which the commoner had to avert his eyes. 

After an authentic Chinese lunch at one of the local restaurants, you will visit the lively Hongqiao Market, a popular market for local shoppers and one of Beijing’s best places to buy Chinese pearls. Take a walk past the fresh and dried foods, to the jewellers upstairs.

To conclude your day’s sightseeing head to Tiananmen Square for a stroll on the largest public plaza on Earth.

In the evening, enjoy a sumptuous dinner in one of Beijing’s notable restaurants.

Overnight: The Peninsula

Meal Plan: B,L,D


Day 3 - Beijing

This morning, you will be driven to the Great Wall at the Mutianyu site. Enjoy time to walk and explore the ramparts and battlement towers that once stood at the vanguard of Chinese civilization.

This afternoon, visit the Ming Tombs, lying 50 kilometres to the north of Beijing. Maintaining an imperial tradition that originated in the Zhou Dynasty (1066 BC-221 BC), the Ming emperors selected the location and design of their tombs during their reign. Afterwards, visit the Spirit Way. A walk along this avenue of stone statues will take you past twelve pairs of animals and six pairs of human figures standing guard among beautiful willow trees.

Overnight: The Peninsula

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 4 - Beijing - Xian

This morning, visit the Summer Palace and enjoy a private boat ride on Lake Kunming (water level permitting). It is the largest imperial garden in the world and is a veritable museum of classical Chinese garden architecture. 

After lunch at a local restaurant, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Xian. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Overnight: Shangri-La

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 5 - Xian

Travel overland to the single greatest archeological find of the 20th century: the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Excavation.

This afternoon, after a sumptuous dumpling lunch will be served at a local restaurant, continue your exploration of Xian. Your first stop is the Great Mosque of Xian, one of the most beautiful and unusual structures in Xian. The area around the mosque is generally considered to the “Muslim quarter”. Following your visit to the mosque, visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. Less frequently included on a tourist itinerary, it is actually one of the most aesthetically pleasing structures in Xian. 

Your exploration of ancient Xian will end today with a visit to the current City Wall. This wall dates to the early Ming period, it was built between 1374 and 1378, and is the third major city wall in the Xian area.

Overnight: Shangri-La

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 6 - Xian - Shanghai

This morning, you will visit the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, the finest museum of ancient Chinese history currently in China. The museum is a tapestry of history encompassing your visit to Xian.

This afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Shanghai with an en-route visit to the Yangling Museum.

Overnight: Four Seasons

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 7 - Shanghai

Enjoy a tour of the French Concession, one of the original European settlement areas. Take a walk through Shanghai’s Old Town, which refers to the original Chinese city that flourished in the Ming dynasty. Enjoy a walk through Shanghai’s old Chinese quarter to the lovely Yu Yuan garden, a 16th century Ming Dynasty private garden and residence.

This afternoon, visit the Shanghai Museum, known as one of the finest museums of ancient Chinese art.  Then proceed to The Bund. This waterfront area sweeping along the Huangpu River has become the centre of Shanghai’s foreign business establishment and the symbol of Shanghai’s identity as a modern city. 

This evening, enjoy a dazzling display of spectacular agility as you attend a Chinese Acrobatic Show including round trip transfers.

Overnight: Four Seasons

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 8 - Shanghai - Zhujiajiao - Shanghai

With natural scenery of little bridges spanning bubbling streams, the ancient river town of Zhujiajiao is built on top of crisscrossing waterways flowing from Dianshan Lake. A walking tour of the town will take you through many exhibition halls that introduce the traditions and customs of life south of the Yangzi River. 

Return to the city, where lunch will be served at a local restaurant. After lunch, visit the Oriental Pearl TV Tower on Pudong. Situated within the Pudong Park in Lujiazui, Pudong New Area, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, with a giddy height of 468 metres, is the world's third tallest TV tower.

In the evening, dinner will be served at one of the glitzy restaurants in the glamorous Xin Tian Di.

Overnight: Four Seasons

Meal Plan: B,L,D


Day 9 - Yangzi River

This afternoon, board the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer at Maoping Pier and prepare for your cruise upstream through this stunning section of the Yangtze River, famous for its stunning scenery and historic and cultural importance to China.

Please note that your passport or local ID is required for check-in, and that your photograph will be taken for security identification purposes.

Settle into your room before joining your fellow guests in the Explorer Bar for a welcome drink.

Tonight, there is an optional embarkation dinner and a welcome safety briefing.

Overnight: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Meal Plan: B,L,D


Day 10 - Yangzi River

Depart Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer and visit the Three Gorges Project Dam Site and Exhibition Centre. Spanning 2,335 metres in length and 181 metres in height, the dam is the largest and most expensive engineering project in the world. While the dam’s 32 generators will produce enough clean energy to reduce China’s reliance on coal, the project has also caused much controversy. During construction, 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,352 villages, over 600 industrial factories and more than 1,200 archaeological projects were submerged.

We will then sail through Xiling Gorge - the longest of the Gorges, measuring some 76 kilometres (47 miles) in length. Enjoy the view of the river where the river widens and sweeps through groves of orange and pomelo trees. This is the perfect introduction to the relaxed pace of the Yangtze River.

Overnight: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Meal Plan: B,L,D


Day 11 - Yangzi River

This morning’s shore excursion is a unique ride along the Shennong Stream on a sampan - a traditional longboat rowed by expert Tujia boatmen. As we gently float through this stunning riverine gorge flanked by verdant forest, you’ll see evidence of early settlements in the form of hanging coffins stowed high within the limestone cliffs.

Before returning from Shennong Stream we will visit a traditional trackers village, where you will have a chance to catch a fascinating glimpse of the traditional, rural Chinese community. You’ll find mud huts as homes, basic kitchens where the meat is dried on hooks and coffins in the bedroom. And, while there are satellite dishes, villagers still pride their heritage.

This afternoon, guests are encouraged to appreciate the scenery from the Sun Deck as we sail through the spectacular Wu Gorge and Qutang Gorge, complimented by informative commentary.

A talk on the 816 Underground Project in the Tang Theatre will leave you well equipped for tomorrow’s excursion.

Overnight: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Meal Plan: B,L,D


Day 12 - Yangzi River

Choose between a visit to an intriguing, secret project, hidden in the mountains of Fuling - The 816 Underground Project or the White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum and a local market tour.

The 816 Underground Project is the world’s largest artificial military cave. Over 50 years ago, more than 60,000 constructers, came to Jianzishan, an uninhabited place among mountains and forest, to start work on a top-secret construction project of a monumental scale. The work continued for 17 years and was nearly completed when the government decided to suspend it, before any nuclear material could be produced. Now as the secrets of military caves are revealed, you will be able to look at the true face of 816 project hidden for 50 years.

A visit to the White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum (included May to Sept) will take you some 148 feet under water to admire the river bed and the intricate ancient rock carvings left there many years ago. Learn about the Yangtze river, it’s flora and fauna, while enjoying this fascinating museum. Your next stop will be the local market, where you will gain insight into the region’s rich culinary culture. This is a daily market where farmers meet to buy and sell a variety of goods, ranging from fruit and vegetables to fish and meat, and of course a whole array of pickles - which Fuling is famous for.

Tonight, we’ll treat you to a sumptuous farewell dinner, ‘A Taste of China’, before a live band performance in the Explorer Bar.

Overnight: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Meal Plan: B,L,D


Day 13 - Yangzi River - Chongqing - Guilin

Disembark at Chongqing and you will be transferred to the hotel for your flight to Guilin.

Overnight: Sheraton Hotel

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 14 - Guilin

This morning, you will board your private boat for a scenic Li River cruise.  En route to the pier, you can admire the dramatic limestone formations and learn about the legends that are associated with many of these pinnacles.

Lunch will be served on board the boat.

In the afternoon, you will arrive in Yangshuo village. Before driving back to Guilin, you may wish to take some time to explore Yangshuo’s village and local market. The drive back to Guilin will provide another perspective on the rich natural beauty in this area highlighting the verdant rice paddies.

Overnight: Sheraton

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 15 - Guilin - Hong Kong

This morning, visit the Tunnel Cave, one of many limestone caverns that dot the hills and pinnacles of the Guilin Region. Continue on to visit Fuboshan Mountain, which is situated in the heart of the city and provides an ideal vantage point for travellers to enjoy the magical scenery which graces the Guilin region.

Late this afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Hong Kong.

Overnight: The Peninsula

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 16 - Hong Kong

The morning excursion around Hong Kong Island includes a visit to the Sheung Wan Dried Food and Herbal Market and then a stop at Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road. Afterwards, you will take a trip on the spectacular Peak Tram to Victoria Peak. Drive down to Aberdeen Marina where you will board a motorised Sampan for a cruise through the floating Tanka community.

Dim sum lunch will be served at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure.

Overnight: The Peninsula

Meal Plan: B,L


Day 17 - Depart Hong Kong

Today, you will be transferred to the airport by the hotel’s Rolls Royce for your departure flight.

Meal Plan: B


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